Haitian Revolution Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

The Haitian Revolution provides a valuable link between the European and American historical traditions. In this lesson plan, we'll make sure that your students can see how effects in both shaped the Revolution.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Link the events of the Haitian Revolution to then-contemporary events in the United States and France.
  • Trace the development of the Haitian Revolution.


40 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.


  • Begin by making sure students can identify Haiti on a map, then introduce the topic with background on events going on in the United States and France from 1780 onwards. Specifically, cover the themes of the French Revolution and the fact that the U.S. had just declared itself independent.
  • Have the students read or read as a class the first two sections of the text lesson Haitian Revolution Summary and Timeline.
    • Discuss the treatment of slaves in Haiti.
    • Identify other maroon communities, such as the islands of South Carolina.
  • Read the Impact of the French Revolution section. Review the concepts of the French Revolution.
    • Why were the French nobility losing their heads?
    • In the Haitian system, who would be executed if the revolution was transported to Saint-Domingue?
  • Read the rest of the lesson.
    • What does it say about the potential income of Saint-Domingue that Spain and Britain were both eager to take it over?
    • Why do you think that Haiti, as an independent state, failed to capitalize on that wealth? Could it?
  • Remind students of the Spanish and British fear that other colonies may declare independence if they gave their support to a French colony that was now free.


  • Divide your class into groups and give them each a specific resource, be it sugar, freedom, finished goods, weapons, or ships.
  • Allow them to trade freely, saying everyone needs to get one of each.
  • Now, reset the activity; however, give everyone a copy of sugar, and tell them that they need to restart to get one of everything. Remind them that they have no reason to help anyone if it doesn't help them.
  • The group that has only sugar will soon find that no one is trading with them. This is Haiti after the revolution. Discuss among your class why this was.


  • Ask students to research Vodou, focusing on its syncretic notions. Then discuss why they think it has got the reputation (as Voodoo) that it has in the United States.
  • Ask students to make a Venn Diagram comparing the American Revolution and the Haitian Revolution.
  • Ask students to connect the events of Haiti to the condition of Southern slaves in the United States. How might this make slave owners in the South feel?

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